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Thu 19th Sep 2013 - Holt's, M&B, Pizza Hut, Punch Taverns and Starbucks

Story of the day:

Research finds more customers ordering tap water in pubs and restaurants: The market research company HIM! has found an increase in the number of customers ordering tap water with their meals in pubs and restaurants in the past year. The survey found one in three pub and restaurant operators reporting an increase in tap water requests in the past 12 months. Customers who order tap water also spend less time in pub and restaurant venues. Martin Hall, chief executive of Freedrinks, the producer of the healthy and natural soft drink brand Zeo, said: “The dynamic in pubs and restaurants is changing. I was in a branch of a well-known restaurant chain recently and saw over two thirds of tables ordering tap water, and not ordering either soft drinks or alcohol. More broadly, driving to lunch and dinner is the norm and bottled water is falling out of favour because of value perception issues. Soft drinks and fruit juice hold suspicion with consumers: sugar is high on the agenda and consumers are being told fruit juice is linked to type 2 diabetes. Soft drinks are sweet, beer and wine are not. But when consumers don’t drink beer or wine they have to change their palate or turn to water. And consumers seem to be turning to water. The restaurant and pub sectors are being impacted by lower time spent in outlet, lower spend and therefore overall revenues by the move to tap water, through lack of credible alternatives.”
 

Industry news:

Peter Hansen to present at the next Propel Multi Club Conference: Peter Hansen, founder of the leading sector merger and acquisition firm Sapient Corporate Finance, will present at the next Propel Multi Club Conference on Thursday 7 November. Hansen will examine the key trends in the pub and restaurant merger and acquisition market. The event takes place at One Moorgate Place, London.

Luke Johnson – most large companies can be saved with a change of leadership: Sector investor Luke Johnson has argued that most failing large companies can be saved – with a change of direction. In his Financial Times column, he wrote: “Most large but failing companies can be saved. But they need fresh leaders, an admission of previous mistakes, a new culture and transformed operations. Unfortunately it is always easier to repeat the actions of the past than to change and perform differently. Institutions can find it especially difficult to reform, because they are less likely to have owners and creditors clamouring for change, and they tend to have more history – which always militates against innovation.”

Irish Times – Dublin pub market is ripe for openings by Wetherspoon and Greene King: The Irish Times has claimed the fragmented Dublin pub market is ripe for expansion by JD Wetherspoon and Greene King, both of which are searching for site; The newspaper said: “On the surface, the Dublin pubs market is ripe for attack from well-capitalised new entrants such as Wetherspoon and Greene King. It is highly fragmented, battered banks control vast swathes of the market, and many highly-indebted owners are desperate to sell. Ireland overall has lost 1,000 of the 12,000 pubs licensed at the height of the boom, but the capital has lost less than 50 pubs to insolvency, and most of those are still open. In recent months, there has been an upswing in city centre trading. There has never been a culture of corporate ownership of the Irish market. But if the brewchains do manage to gain a foothold, it is not in the pubs market that the greatest effect will be felt, it is in the brewing and distribution game. Once you strip out Bulmers cider, draught beer distribution in Ireland is effectively a duopoly. Heineken, which also distributes Murphy’s, and Diageo, which distributes almost everything else, will be watching closely to see how the British brewchains fare.”

New Eataly in Chicago will have more beer choice: The next opening for Eataly, the foodservice phenomenon that takes $80m a year in New York, planned for Chicago in mid-November will have eight restaurants, including a 150-seat pizza and pasta eatery, an enoteca and mozzarella bar, a fish-focused Pesce restaurant, and a meat-focused Carne restaurant among the eight; in addition to a friggatoria focusing on fried foods and a piadineria for flatbreads. The 63,000 square-foot venue will also house a grocery, produce market, and butcher, which will include products from West Loop Salami, and a birreria brewpub. The Chicago Eataly will have Midwestern touches, like more beer and sausage, and local producers inside to source the ingredients. Propel and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers is taking a study group to Chicago for the National Restaurant Show in May 2014. To register an interest in attending, e-mail paul.charity@propelinfo.com.

Starbucks asks customers not to bring their guns into its US sites: Starbucks has done a U-turn on its stance on customers carrying guns into its outlets in the United States, calling on them to leave their armaments at home instead. Chief executive Howard Schultz requested on Tuesday that the coffee chain’s customers leave their firearms behind. The request was made in part because more people had been bringing guns into Starbucks over the past six months, prompting confusion and dismay among some patrons and employees, Schultz said. In an open letter to customers, he said: “Our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.” Starbucks’ policy had been to default to local gun laws, including “open carry” regulations that allow people to bring guns into stores. It has nearly 7,000 company-operated US sites.

Meals-on-wheels recipients told to order from restaurants: Meals-on-wheels in Brent, North London are to be scrapped, with recipients helped to buy food from their favourite restaurant or takeaway instead. Brent Council said that allowing people getting meals-on-wheels to have meals delivered by local providers will improve choice and save it £300,000 a year. The council will provide its 187 recipients of meals-on-wheels with a payment card pre-loaded with £3.50 a day to cover the delivery costs of each meal. The residents will also be required to contribute £3.50 a day, with the restaurant receiving £7, less than the £8.52 the current contractor, Apetito, charges the council.

ETM Group founders both invest in fast-track drinks app: Both of ETM Group’s founders, Ed Martin and Tom Martin, have invested in a new mobile wallet application that helps impatient drinkers skip queues in pubs and other crowded venues. The investors are together taking a 10% stake in the company through the tax-efficient Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme. Tim Bichara, founder and chief executive of Q App, said the company had already signed up venues including the South Bank Centre in London and Nimax Theatres to use its technology. “Our vision is to remove queuing from busy venues,” he said. The app enables people to order food and drinks from their mobile phone, and then collect the refreshments from a dedicated fast-track lane or have them delivered to their table.
 

Company news:

Record number of Punch pubs feature in Good Beer Guide: A record total of 243 Punch Taverns pubs feature in the Good Beer Guide 2014, with 180 pubs making it in to the Camra guide for a second time. Punch Buying Club Director Andy Slee said: “We share a common purpose with Camra, as we are all committed to great cask ale being served in community pubs. Almost 150,000 pints of ale go through these Good Beer Guide pubs per week, averaging over 650 pints per week. We have worked very hard with our licensees to promote a wide range of high quality cask ales throughout the estate and this has been reflected in the great numbers in the Good Beer Guide. Over 50% of the pubs included are registered to our Finest Cask scheme, which offers a massive range of beers on a regular rotation, including Camra’s award-winning ales.”

Holt’s to open on Premium Bonds site: The Manchester brewer Joseph Holt is to build a pub and restaurant on the former Premium Bonds site in Lytham St Annes. The 18.3-acre site on Heyhouses Lane is being developed by Worthington Properties into a £55m new housing estate of 162 homes. Holt’s, which currently runs 130 tied pubs, joins the supermarket chain Booths on the estate. Development director Russell Worthington said: “We have tried to create a microcosm of an English village. A shop, a pub and a village green combined with housing for most sections of society. Booths and Holt’s have been the cornerstone for villages throughout the north west of England for the past 150 years. Their presence at Heyhouses will reassure the public of the Fylde that Heyhouses will be a centre of excellence offering Booths and Holt’s traditional high quality products with courteous and responsive service. Worthington Properties is proud they are partners in this scheme and that they will both continue with these ideals.”

Mitchells & Butlers to boost skills through foundation degree: Retail managers at Mitchells & Butlers are boosting their operational skills and career prospects with a new online degree run by University College Birmingham. The new course, Managing in Service Industries, is a higher education foundation degree, covering a broad range of practice-based modules designed to enhance managers’ performance in busy commercial environments. The first intake of 45 Mitchells & Butlers’ retail managers has now enrolled with UCB on this unique programme, designed to develop the knowledge required to be a successful retail manager within the hospitality industry. The three-year degree comprises a total of ten modules, which are studied one at a time, and include key subject areas such as business economics, financial administration and human resource planning. The part-time programme is delivered online and features a range of activities such as podcasts, videos, slideshow presentations and study blogs. Mitchells & Butlers has tailored the degree modules to reflect its business, enabling employees to learn how to apply management concepts and theories to the pub and restaurant sector as part of a course designed to enhance individual career progression. The foundation degree, which can be taken to full BA (Hons) level over five years, is delivered by UCB’s School of Hospitality, Tourism and Events Management.

Punch Taverns puts historic Yorkshire hotel on market for £795,000: The Steeton Hall Hotel, between Keighley and Skipton, which was originally built in 1662, has been put on the market by Punch Taverns for £795,000. The hall was converted from a private residence into a 10-bedroom hotel and restaurant in 1983 and at one point was run by Cain’s of Liverpool. It includes a conservatory, coffee lounge/bar, second bar area, breakfast and dining rooms and a separate function room as well as 80 car parking spaces. Punch, which closed the hotel last month, is selling the freehold of the two-acre property through CBRE and Westlake & Co. Sam Frankland, director of CBRE’s specialists markets team, said: “This is a truly unique opportunity for interested parties to purchase a part of West Yorkshire’s history. The property, which is a popular wedding venue, is ready-made for a keen entrepreneur to develop the business and is certain to attract keen interest due to its charm and character.”

O’Brien Leisure takes crowd-funding route for new gay venue: O’Brien Leisure Group, led by Andrew O’Brien, has launched a fund-raising push on the crowd-funding website Crowdcube. The company wants to open a new venue in Sheffield to “revamp and rejuvenate Sheffield’s gay scene”. It wants to raise £60,000 in return for 20% of the equity in the new project. O’Brien said: “We have no debts against the company, but due to an accident of a personal nature the project has fallen behind schedule and due to a knock-on effect of reduced income the capital has been severely affected. I am looking for a mere £60,000 investment to complete this project and launch the opening of the gay club and pre-bar well in time for the peak trading months, which are from November onwards. This is a great opportunity for low investment and high return, we have a projected turnover of £44,100 per month with gross profits of over £23,000 a month. This is an average monthly takings, but this figure can increase by around 30% during peak months from November. Should the investment be achieved quickly we are looking to launch in September in time for fresher week at the universities in Sheffield.”

Boutique hotel offers free night’s stay to Instagram influencers: A boutique hotel and bar is offering a free night’s stay to anyone who has more than 10,000 followers on Instagram. The 1888 Hotel in Sydney, Australia, which is owned by 8Hotels, was relaunched earlier this year and is promoting itself by inviting anyone with more than 10,000 followers on Instagram, to follow 1888 Hotel on Instagram @8hotels and email the company to book a free night at the hotel. Alternately, guests who Instagram photos of their stay and use the hashtag #1888Hotel are automatically entered into a competition to win a free night’s stay.

Red Oak re-opens Whitchurch pub: Red Oak Taverns, the operator of 27 community pubs, one managed most leased, will re-open The Kings Arms in Whitchurch, Hampshire, a historic 17th century public house, tomorrow (20 September). Director Mark Grunnell said: “Whether through our tenanted or managed divisions, Red Oak strives to offer the best pub experience we can in the communities in which we operate, and The Kings Arms is no exception.”

Pizza Hut criticised for 3,000 calorie pizza: Pizza Hut’s newly launched cheeseburger pizza, carrying 2,000 calories, and featuring ten mini burgers topped with mozzarella embedded around the crust, has been criticised by the National Obesity Forum. Half the pizza is enough to account for 72% of a woman’s daily allowance of 2,000 calories. Tam Fry, a spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: “If I had a family of ten and we had all been on a brisk five mile walk in the rain and lost our picnic on the way, I might just buy one to ensure that everyone got a warm something inside them. For your average family, however, divvying this pizza up in any other way is unreasonable and irresponsibly marketed.” In a statement the chain said: “We are committed to producing a wide range of fresh, high quality food which can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. In fact, every pizza in our restaurants comes with free, unlimited salad.”

Subway names European region marketing director: Manaaz Akhtar has been named regional marketing director for Subway in Europe. She was previously head of marketing for the UK and Ireland market, where she oversaw the national marketing strategy for more than 1,650 Subway stores. She played a key role in developing the Subway lunch promotion successfully transforming the brand’s role in the lunchtime market and, most recently, launching the new national #notwithit breakfast campaign. Akhtar previously held positions at Burger King and Pizza Hut UK.

New £20m Sheffield Student’s Union features fifth-floor restaurant: Sheffield University will open a new £20m Students’ Union in a fortnight, featuring a fifth floor restaurant serving a flaked tuna and anchovies tartine served with olives and fine beans. Development officer Sam Neagus said: “Things have moved on from that idea all students want from a union is somewhere selling cheap booze. Today, university costs more than ever and students are demanding a full experience – we have to meet that.” The restaurant, called Inox Dine (Inox being another word for steel), will be open to all. Sheffield has won the award for best Student Union in the UK for the past two years.

Wagamama to open at York Designer Outlet next week: Wagamama will open a site at the York Designer Outlet next week. It will be the third stand-alone restaurant at the retail centre’s food quarter. The venue will be the second Wagamama in York after the brand opened its first restaurant in the city in December 2011, in Goodramgate. The Designer Outlet invested £1.3m in the new food court in August last year, splitting it into three areas, called Pit Stop, Family Kitchen and Dining Lounge. It seats up to 600 people across eight eateries.

Costa Coffee adopts environmentally friendly packaging: Costa Coffee has unveiled new product-wide packaging as part of the company’s sustainability and corporate social responsibility commitments. The new packaging has been designed to use fewer resources, saving over 18 tonnes of paper annually. This initiative is part of the company’s drive to achieve zero waste to landfill operations by 2017. The redesign also includes the government’s new voluntary nutritional labelling scheme, which enables customers to more easily make healthier choices about the food they eat. Jane Treasure, Costa’s head of food, said: “At Costa, we are delighted with the improvements we have made to our packaging and the customer response to it. Now using fewer resources and displaying new nutritional labelling, this redesigned packaging demonstrates Costa’s role as an industry leader with regard to corporate responsibility and sustainability.”

Bill’s picks up former pub in Salisbury: Bill’s Restaurants has acquired the lease of a former public house at Blue Boar Row, Salisbury for a new site. Previously trading as The Chough, the mock Tudor building is circa 4,000 sq ft and was transferred by way of an assignment of the existing 20 year lease at a passing rent of £85,000 a year. The premium was undisclosed. Casey Phillips, of agent Shelley Sandzer, said: “As an affluent Wiltshire town, sites in Salisbury are always in high demand by restaurant operators. However, opportunities of the right size and location are seldom available. Bill’s has secured a great site and aesthetically the pub works well for Bill’s who thrive within character buildings.” 

KFC chooses ten former students for fast-track scheme: KFC has selected ten former students from across the UK to join its coveted 12-month Operations Leadership Scheme. The company received more than 1,000 applicants for the fast-track programme, with the final ten candidates going through an intensive selection process in order to gain their place on the sought-after course. The successful graduates will earn up to £30,000 in their first year out of university and will initially start work in the UK. James Watts, vice-president HR at KFC UK, said: “I’m excited about our Operations Leadership Scheme, as it means so much to our organisation and is another great chance for us to support the learning and development of our people. We’re looking forward to growing our graduate talent towards senior operations leadership roles, where within just one year they will be overseeing large, talented teams, developing people and running a multi-million pound business.” KFC has “global ambition” for the futures of its graduates, with the company keen for the programme to play a key part in helping KFC UK to become the lead talent grower for parent company Yum! Brands.

Luke Johnson makes commercial property investment: Investor Luke Johnson has bought the 18,000 sq ft Poseidon House in Plymouth and is aiming to attract more businesses from the professional, finance and creative sectors to the property. Poseidon House overlooks the River Plym and is the Cattedown area of Plymouth. Johnson, who has had business interests including PizzaExpress, Giraffe and Patisserie Valerie and is a former chairman of Channel 4, regards the investment as a vote of confidence in the city.

Starbucks replaces Costa Coffee at Sussex college: The branded coffee counter at Central Sussex College in Crawley is changing from Costa to Starbucks after the college’s external catering supplier, Catering Academy, decided the town had enough Costa outlets already. The college’s current Costa outlet has been in place for a year. However, Crawley already has 11 other Costa outlets, against just one Starbucks, at Cineworld in Crawley Leisure Park. A spokesman for Catering Academy told the Crawley News: “We have a good relationship with both Costa and Starbucks, but we are aware Costa is already well represented in Crawley. We decided Starbucks would be enjoyed by the college students because it is different to what is available to them in the town centre. Within the existing food court area, we will have a Starbucks facility where students will be able to get drinks and other Starbucks products.” The counter, in the college’s on-site food court, will only be accessible to college students.

Restaurant brands line up for Milton Keynes development: The Crown Estate has agreed to a fund a multi-million pound leisure development, MK1 Leisure Park, with InterMK, the development company of Milton Keynes Dons chairman Pete Winkelman. The £25m MK1 Leisure park will include a 15 screen Odeon cinema, with an IMAX, and eight restaurant units already pre-let to a range of tenants including TGI Friday’s, Frankie & Benny’s, Bella Italia, Nando’s and Prezzo.

Chef & Brewer names its Masterchef: A Worcester pub chef is celebrating after winning the pub restaurant chain Chef & Brewer’s national cooking competition and will now see his Lamb Three Ways dish made available in more than 136 pubs across the country. Chef & Brewer is owned by Spirit. Russell Collins, a chef at the Fox Inn in Bransford, who will also receive a cooking class experience at River Cottage and personalised chef whites, won over the judges at Chef & Brewer’s Masterchef competition with his roast lamb chop coupled with pan fried lamb’s liver and a shepherd’s pie “bon bon”, topped with pea puree and accompanied with buttered baby vegetables, pea shoots and a red wine and thyme jus. Collins, who also cooked up a tea-smoked duck and beetroot salad starter and a strawberry and basil cheesecake dessert to complement his main course, said: “I’m absolutely ecstatic that I’ve won, I feel extremely lucky; the other finalists are extremely skilled and their dishes looked fantastic. I was really nervous about pulling together a three-course meal for the judges but the hard work and preparation has paid off.”

JW Lees opens £2m pub in Crewe: Brewer and retailer JW Lees has opened the £2m pub Duke of Gloucester in Crewe Green Road, Crewe. The family-owned Manchester firm, famed for its real ales, is employing 35 people at its new outlet. A spokesman said: “JW Lees looks at the whole of the north west as its catchment area and was delighted to find a suitable site in Crewe. We will be keeping an eye on the market place for development opportunities which would allow us another outlet in the Crewe area.”

Rupert and Jo Clevely launch new pub venture: The founders of Geronimo Inns, Rupert and Jo Clevely, are to open a new project in the centre of Brighton. They have formed Greenwell & Tipple, which will be built on the foundations of their 18 years’ experience running some of London’s best pubs. Greenwell and Tipple working with Southern Trains is to open its first site, in the soon-to-be renovated Brighton station. The station sees 36,000 passengers pass through it daily, including business commuters, students, tourists and families. The Clevelys have named the new site “The Cyclist – Refreshment Rooms”, saying they want to “move away from the gastro-pub clichés, and towards the individuality befitting a modern train station drinking and dining venue”. The Cyclist will provide all-day dining, with breakfast starting from 7am. The vast majority of the beers and ciders will be locally sourced, as will the food. The design will be by Jo Clevely, and will be “eclectic, bright and extremely inviting”. A spokesman said: “The design will respect the features of the original building, highlighting the big feature windows and high vaulted ceiling. The interior will follow a theme using up-cycled materials where bar stools will be crafted from bikes and old tyres will be used to create seating externally along with AstroTurf. The space will be divided with walls of books, each handpicked for reading on-site, there will be plenty of comfy seating to help customers relax and feel at home. Greenwell and Tipple is to become the new family passion, as Rupert and Jo are including their three daughters, Coco, India and Montana, in its development.”

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